Tonight, live from Atlantic City, Pavlik has the chance to do something no other fighter has ever done. He steps in with boxing legend, 43 year Bernard Hopkins, a fighter who has never been knocked out. The odds makers currently have Pavlik listed as a 4 to 1 favorite meaning Pavlik should have an easy night right? I wouldn't be so sure of that.
Kelly Pavlik comes in to the fight tonight with a great record of 34-0 with 30 impressive knockouts. He is currently the undisputed middleweight (160 pounds) champion. The bout with Hopkins is not for any titles, they will fight at a catch weight of 170 pounds.
Bernard Hopkins, at 48-5-1, is still considered one of the top fighters in the game today. He has been in with a lot of big names and has a huge experience factor over Pavlik. His defensive style doesn't always make for a pretty fight. He also has been known to use every tactic in the book to get under his opponents skin. Tonight will be no different.
If the fight tonight is going to be fan friendly, Pavlik will have to control the pace. He will need to come forward like he always does and stay at a distance. If the match is fought on the inside up against the ropes, Hopkins will have an advantage and that's what he will be looking for.
I have no reason to believe that Kelly Pavlik won't set the tone in this fight. His comes in with a point to prove. Bernard Hopkins has been questioning his opposition since this fight has been announced. He claims that he has only heard of three guys Pavlik has fought. Hopkins loves to play mind games and at the weigh in it appeared to work on Pavlik.
During the traditional stare down, Pavlik was out of character and looked to be frustrated by Hopkins and his talk. Both fighters were jawing back and forth, something you hardly ever see from the classy Kelly Pavlik.
Bernard Hopkins is very aware of the power that Pavlik brings into tonight's battle. He has seen every style and beaten fighters similar to Pavlik in the past. In order for Bernard to win tonight, it will have to be a slow down, defensive, ugly fight. He will look to hold and get Pavlik out of his game all night long.
With a win tonight, Kelly Pavlik, will be considered legit. He is already one of best fighters in the world, but he still has a lot of doubters because of his resume. There is nothing better than earning respect than beating a fighter with the legacy like the one Hopkins has.
I have said all along that this fight is a lose-lose for Pavlik, unless he was to score a knockout against Bernard Hopkins. Something tells me that Pavlik is going to do just that.
Look for the first few rounds to be ugly. Hopkins will do his thing and grab and prevent Pavlik from throwing his big shots. Once the pace of the fight picks up and Hopkins starts to show his age, look for Kelly to take advantage of a few openings. The left jab always sets up Pavlik's big right hand. That bomb will find its target on a number of occasions in the middle rounds. Hoplkins is going to get harder than he has in any of his last ten fights combined, and he might just find himself looking up at the lights.
Kelly Pavlik is a throwback fighter. You know exactly what we wants to do, and his opposition can't do anything about it. He has that "it" factor, the heart that champions are made of. We saw that when he got off the canvas against Jermain Taylor on his way to becoming the middleweight king. His talent and skill will be on display this evening and I for one can't wait to tune in.